Big kids.

From an early age, play is important to a child’s development and learning. It isn’t just physical. It can involve cognitive, imaginative, creative, emotional and social aspects. It is the main way most children express their impulse to explore, experiment and understand. Children of all ages play.

-from Learning Space on openlearn.open.ac.uk (emphasis mine)

I ran across this quotation today on one of my favourite inspiring creative blogs – Daintytime – and it got me to thinking. (thinking enough, even, to jolt me out of this blogging drought I seem to have fallen into lately and bring the question to you, so that’s saying something)

Why do we consider play the domain only of children? What’s with that?!

What do you think? I’d be interested in hearing what some of you who have more knowledge of conventional psychology or who are educators and/or parents have to say on the topic. Do we really just ‘develop’ as children, and then at some magical cusp, reach full development and coast into completion as adults, fully formed, poised and realized, there to remain, still and inert and finished? Maybe you can tell from that last sentence that I truly don’t want to believe in that — certainly my own life doesn’t look or feel like that’s the path I’m on. Nor would I want it to. Doesn’t it sound a bit… boring? And stressful? Don’t you think that us “grown ups” should get to continue to explore, experiment, and understand, too?

Is it just that as adults we come up with fancier or more specific names for play? What sorts of things do you guys do that allows you to express and explore these important impulses?

I want to be a work in progress ’til the day I die. Are you with me?

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5 Responses

  1. I was thinking along the same lines yesterday as I sat with my little 8 month old babies by the side of the road watching the parade. I realized that although they are learning and developing from all the things we take them to at this age, a lot of the activities are for the adults’ enjoyment. So I’m waving enthusiastically to all the clowns and clapping and whooting. Then, all of a sudden I start to feel self conscious. Am I suppose to enjoy and act so silly at a parade as an adult?!? An adult without an consciously aware child to entertain/teach? I quickly decided that was absurd and if I wanted to whoot and clap and wave why shouldn’t I? It’s good for the soul!

    I’ve often wondered where my childhood creativity has gone. I think I used to be a lot more interesting but as I’ve gotten older and more responsible I’ve deffinately gotten duller. I think we start out interest

  2. haha… Beatrice just submitted my message mid-sentence…

    Anyway, bottom line I think in order to “function” / “be a success” in society we can’t be so darn creative and weird. They beat it outta us!

    I think if we all played a little more we’d all be happier and more creative and thoughtful and interesting! I’m glad I’ve got two buddles to remind me not to be so darn DULL! and get out there and whoot, wave, clap and play!

    Love ❤

  3. work in progress ’til the day I die! absolutely. I think I have to agree with Rikki. I think ‘grown up’ is a misnomer for everybody. I know it’s always felt that way for me. How could we really be grown up and finished growing? I think mainstream educational and economic systems work together to try to shape us into manageable workers, making our creativity pretty inconvenient, hard to measure, even harder to control. The ways that we allow ourselves to be ourselves -whether it’s whooping at a parade or dancing like no one’s watching (one of my personal favourites) – those are the ways that we free ourselves from the ropes of our learned habits of self restraint.

  4. I’m with Carla about how play is managed out of us as we become adults. I’m also interested in the relationship to play and aging. As an artist I’ve taken a less common path in my life. I don’t have a family and I only work two days a week in what I call my day job. Sometimes I feel like an oddball.

    Career artists are not the mainstream, but there are many of us out there and what I’ve noticed in general is that artists usually seem a lot younger than they are – physically and mentally. We play a lot more throughout our lives, I think than the norm.

  5. i’ve been thinking about play a lot too. . . and growing/progressing. . . i’ve got growing pains, i need to play (and nap) more

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